What is a mastermind anyway? I’ve heard it said it’s industry jargon in the coaching business, and perhaps it is. So this month I thought we could dig into it a little further.

A Mastermind is usually a small group of 5-8 people who gather regularly to collectively tackle individual challenges. The idea of a “Master” mind is that the whole is equal to greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s why teamwork is so popular and group projects that introduce different approaches to solving the same issue are the preferred way of working in business school.

It’s about tackling your business challenges with your own personal Board of Directors,
of sorts, to champion, support, and help you elevate your business to the next level.

The right small group Mastermind has your back, will boost your confidence, and run the last mile with you.  And, it’s not for everyone. This month, we’ve prepared a Q & A with Susan Elford, to learn why she is such a strong proponent of the Mastermind experience:

Why do you like Masterminds?


I’ll be honest. I’m a serial group creator and master connector. I love getting people together – for fun, for dinner, for parties, for community benefit – so it makes sense that I’m also drawn to creating and participating in the community for business-building too.
I like the camaraderie. I like the connection.
I like the new ideas generated in the group, and I like the sharing of new ideas and learning what my colleagues are up to.

How long have you been in a Mastermind?

I’ve been in a few Masterminds over the years. Some have a teaching component, some have been pure masterminds where there is no agenda except the agenda the individuals bring each time we meet, some have been paid, and some have been run by volunteers. I’ve been creating and participating in Mastermind environments ever since I launched my first business, Elford Communications, in 2003.

What style of Mastermind is the most effective?

It depends on what you’re looking for. What I know is having a strong group charter – where you know what you’re signing up for, for how long, and the purpose of the group – is paramount. I personally prefer to be in a paid group, where the leader is reimbursed for the time to keep the group going and lead the discussion. This ensures the group continues regularly because you need someone to run the thing. I also prefer a Mastermind environment where there is a strong focus – i.e. there is a designed shared experience where you’re all working towards something similar. I also really like learning new things, so an environment where there’s some new content being presented or talked about, interspersed with topics that the individuals bring each week. I call this working “on” the business versus working “in” the business. I believe a mix of both is essential to business success.

Have you ever been in a Mastermind that didn’t work?

I wouldn’t say that it didn’t “work” really, but I see some styles working better than others. I find if it’s run by a volunteer and there is no financial investment to participate, participation eventually fades due to inconsistent leadership and other priorities getting in the way. I also prefer Masterminds that have a strong learning focus, to keep the community engaged and working together. Accountability is also super important. People like to see progress in their work and will keep showing up if they can see the value.

How often should Masterminds meet?

I’ve been in groups that meet weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly. My sweet spot is bi-weekly with group touchpoints – like a Facebook group – or accountability partners meeting on the weeks you don’t meet. I find that monthly groups aren’t frequent enough to build true trust, connection, and collaboration between members, and weekly can be too much given you also need time to implement your accountabilities in between meetings.

How important are the members to the success of the Mastermind?

Your members are so important. They need to be committed – to themselves and to each other — focused on building success in their own business while being generous with ideas and support of others, and have a common focus. For example, if the range of experience is too broad inside a group, the members with a lot of experience can feel they are bringing more to the group than they’re gaining, and the more junior members can feel overwhelmed with all they feel they have to learn. Curating your members is an important job of the Mastermind host.

Curious to learn more about Masterminds? Check out these past articles on www.susanelford1.wpengine.com for more background into this popular group coaching and business growth experience.


The Magic and Power of Community

Building Your Tribe As a Small Business Owner

Having participated in and led many Masterminds over the years, I’ve designed a business community mastermind experience that combines all my favorite resources into one stellar package:

  • Private Coaching
  • Community Mastermind Environment
  • Learning from Others
  • Core Content with 16 Modules on Building and Marketing Your Small Business
  • Mindset Strategies
  • Accountability and Structure with bi-weekly live sessions and recorded content to keep you learning and moving forward.

Whether you’re just thinking about your new business or you’ve been consulting or coaching for years, there’s something for you. Check out The Aligned Business Collective HERE.

P.S. Reach out for a quick call to see if the Aligned Business Collective is for you!

Susan Elford

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PR Launchpad Guidebook ABOUT SUSAN ELFORD

Susan Elford is a Leadership Coach and PR Strategist who especially loves to work with women who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a full and satisfying life. Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.

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